This week I had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Kang from the University of Minnesota’s Adoption Clinic. Dr. Kang spoke about her work with children and families in post-adoption visits to the U of M clinic. An adoption clinic, such as the University of Minnesota, does not take the place of primary care for children but rather provides adjunct specialized care to children who have one thing in common: adoption. Domestic and international adoptees and their families receive care here that focuses on issues that are either universal to adoption or may be common issues for children with a specific background. Children often visit the clinic 2-3 weeks after homecoming, again at 3-6 months home and then as needed. During this time children continue to visit their primary provider who may remain in contact with the adoption clinic for coordinated care. A few important messages:
1) Dr. Kang said they often give a child 3 months before referring to early intervention services giving a child time to acclimate and bond first. Many developmental issues begin to fade quickly within the love of a family. (At their first visit to the clinic all children receive comprehensive medical, developmental, audiology, dentistry, and opthamology assessments.)
2) Dr. Kang recommends drawing titers for immunity rather than repeating all vaccinations.
3) Precocious puberty can be treated if treatment if initiated prior to menses. Delaying menses for girls adopted as older children may allow for emotional maturation as they adjust to their family.
4) Iron levels should be checked again at 6 months due to rapid growth which may deplete stores even in the presence of excellent nutrition.
5) Dr. Kang recommends parents provide all care necessary for life. In other words, in the first several months whenever possible, parents should try to feed, clothe, bathe and comfort their newly adopted child to optimize bonding and attachment.
More suggestions are available on the University of Minnesota’s Adoption Clinic website including screening protocols, information about travel, current research. This information can be shared with a local care provider.